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Fury of the Northmen: Saints, Shrines and Sea-Raiders in the Viking Age, A. D. 793-878 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I must admit this book wasn't what I hoped it would be -- a comprehensive account of the Norse and Danish "viking" invasions of the British Isles from 793 to William the Conqueror in 1066. Instead, it's mostly an account of coastal monasteries, with particular attention to that of St. Cuthbert at Lindisfarne, the invasion that started it all and led to nearly 3 centuries of wandering by monks toting his unwithered carcass around northern England. While the heathen invaders play a role in the book, the after-effects of their raids seem more important to the author than other specifics regarding the raiding, particularly political, social and economic forces behind their movement. While the path taken by Marsden was not much to my liking, I probably could have successfully adjusted my expectations had he been more secular in his presentation. Marsden derived too many conclusions from suspect sources...sagas, poems, and chronicles where he would seemingly pick and choose what he considered unequivocal fact and what was obvious fiction -- even when appearing in the same paragraph! He was also overly fond of pointing out passages that seemed to foretell future events, I'm pretty sure Marsden actually believed that divine intervention altered to course of history many times during this period. This quickly becomes tedious to the non-believer, and throws all conclusions into doubt. Read this book if you have a special interest in English and Irish monasteries during the Dark Ages. Skip it if you want to learn more about vikings or the heroes that opposed them (such as Alfred the Great).